A proposal that would give Richmond residents a 48-hour grace period on towing and storage fees after their vehicle was stolen or vandalized was put on hold Thursday following dissent from tow companies.
The proposal came after victims of car thefts in Richmond complained they were victimized twice by having to pay to release their vehicle from tow storage facilities.
But at Thursday’s Public Safety Committee hearing, tow company officials said the proposal would greatly impact them financially.
“We towers started our businesses because we are there to help people; on the flip-side, in order to run a business we have to make money,” said Mark Lenz of Civic Center Tow, one of six companies that have submitted proposals for contracts with the city.
Lenz pointed out that victims get a 15-percent discount on tow and storage fees.
Councilmember Nat Bates said while he can support waiving the storage fee, the process of towing a vehicle requires labor that comes at a significant cost to a business.
“I don’t think we can expect them to do that free,” Bates said.
But Bates said he feels for victims and wants to see if an equitable agreement can be reached with tow companies that could further reduce costs. The Public Safety Committee voted to table the proposal for 60 days to allow for further discussions.
Police officials say when they locate a vehicle that requires towing, they typically try to contact the owner from the scene and give them 30 to 45 minutes to reclaim the vehicle. If they cannot get a hold of the car owner, a notice that it had been towed is reportedly mailed out the same day.